UK and Scottish governments working together to deliver welfare and work27 July 2016
Times are changing and, for the first time, the UK and Scottish Governments have joint responsibilities to the people of Scotland in terms of the delivery of benefits and helping those who face the toughest barriers to get back to work. Whilst much of the central support, including Universal Credit and Pensions, will remain consistent across Great Britain, the Scottish Parliament will soon have powers to introduce new benefits or top up a person’s existing benefit payments. Scottish Ministers will also be responsible for delivering key employment support programmes in Scotland and able to change key parameters of Universal Credit, such as how housing costs are determined.
In time, responsibility for important existing benefits will be devolved too. These include Carer’s Allowance and Personal Independence Payments and cold weather related payments and were worth over £2.7billion in Scotland in 2014/15.
These truly are exciting times. We are now working with the Scottish Government in ways that we never have before. Both governments and their officials are determined to work well together to manage the challenging transition of the powers and make a real success of devolution. One of the first real tests will be the Scottish delivery of employment support from April 2017. We’ve worked closely on the design of the new programmes, sharing lots of data and department information. Now we are thinking about implementation and delivery. It is in both Governments’ interests that this is successful.
Devolution isn’t just about shifting powers between the four nations either. The UK Government is committed to passing greater responsibility to cities. The Devolution and City Deals that have been signed give cities including Manchester, Cardiff and Edinburgh more responsibility for developing local solutions to further economic growth.
Some may say devolution leads to more complexity. In part, they are correct however, if done well, it can also drive better local services and better outcomes for the individual and the country. This is why we are committed to devolution and to it making a real, positive difference.
Victoria Hogan is Deputy Director for Devolution at the Department for Work and Pensions
This blog is part of a series of blogs produced around the IntoWork Convention 2016